New species found on the Piketberg

31 December 2014

On the 24th of December the CREW team accompanied by Dr. John Manning from SANBI’s Compton Herbarium went on a field trip to monitor Gladiolus insolens, an exquisitely beautiful rare species occurring on the Piketberg in the Western Cape.

Two years ago we attempted to monitor this species but we were too early and did not find it. This year we were determined to see the plants in flower and our local CREW volunteers Peter and Angela Langton went on a recce beforehand to check if the plants were in flower.

Surprised and confused

We met Peter and Johan (farm manager) at the farmhouse and Peter took us directly to the plants. We were completely blown away by the striking crimson red colour of the flowers. This species grows along perennial streams and is only known from two populations close to Zebrakop on the Piketberg mountains.

We were continuing the search for more Gladiolus insolens at our next stop when we stumbled across a strange Tritoniopsis species, which had Dr. Manning surprised and confused. This was a very good sign and we immediately started rejoicing because if he did not know it, it had to be new or very special. 

The “new” Tritoniopsis species

Species to be described and published

We took specimens of the plant and on returning to Compton herbarium later that day Dr. Manning confirmed it to be a new species. Its closest relative based on the morphology is Tritoniopsis parviflora. John Manning will be describing and publishing the species in the new year.

Many thanks to our volunteers for helping us find the Gladiolus insolens, which led to the discovery of a new species, and to Dr. Manning for spotting the Tritoniopsis and making the field trip all the more worthwhile. 

The crimson red Gladiolus insolens

For more information on this article and the please contact Ismail Ebrahim.

 

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